The Winner!

Ok, I know I said I was going to post the winner on Monday, but honestly, I couldn’t wait anymore!

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Um, wow…..I was really shocked at the number of people who commented this week! I had no idea you were all out there! Hi!! :-)

I really wish everybody could’ve won….I hate having to just pick one person. Especially since everyone’s answers were so good – there’s definitely going to be some FUN Christmas baking going on in all your kitchens this year! That being said, I did indeed have to pick just one winner….and here she is:

winner

Aria! You’re the winner!! Yaaaaaay! Good luck trying your mom’s Pizzelles this year – I bet they’ll turn out beautifully! And now you have a cookie decorating book and a Linzer cut-out set! Enjoy it!!

Thanks everybody, for making my very first giveaway a total success! Hopefully there will be many more to come! Happy baking!

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pfeffernusse1

You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this time of year to get here! I absolutely love the Holiday season….and more importantly, the baking adventures it brings. I’ve already been baking all kinds of cookies and having tons of fun trying new recipes. Like these Pfeffernüsse – German spice cookies, traditionally made at Christmas.

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I first fell in love with these in college while taking a German course. My professor had just gotten back from Germany and brought us a whole array of German Christmas cookies to try. These were among them, and ooooh boy, were they good! Since then, I’ve been searching for the perfect recipe for Pfeffernüsse, so I can make them at home. This recipe is a Martha Stewart, and while it’s close….it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. However, the cookies were delicious (sort of like a molasses cookie) and my co-workers seemed to really enjoy them.

Pfeffernüsse
-Martha Stewart

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place confectioners’ sugar in a brown paper bag (I used a bowl).
In a medium bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Set aside.
Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; beat until just combined. Pinch off dough in tablespoon amounts; roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Arrange balls 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (Dough can be frozen at this point, covered tightly with plastic wrap, up to 1 month).

Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking, about 15 minutes. Transfer sheets to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Working in batches, place cookies in paper bag; shake until well coated. Let cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container.

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And now here’s the part that I’m most excited about: my first giveaway!!! It being cookie season and all (and because they started playing Christmas music on XM radio!), I thought it only fitting to give you a little something to get you started.

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I recently saw this book reviewed on The National Cookie Network blog and immediately bought one. Great tips and pictures showing you how to perfectly decorate cookies for any occasion (with an entire section dedicated to Christmas cookies!). Perfect for a cookie decorating idiot like myself. And since it’s so fantastic, I decided to get an extra copy for you!! AND since you can’t make great holiday cookies without some fabulous cookie cutters: this Holiday Linzer Cookie Cut-Out set is yours as well. Woo Hoo!!

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All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment on this post answering this little question:

What Holiday cookie are you dying to try this year?

RULES:

1.) Only one entry per person, please

2.) You have until midnight Friday, Nov. 20. I’ll post the winner on Monday.

Good luck!!

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Winning Feels Good…

Yep – that’s right. I won all that great stuff! My fellow food blogger Jamie, of My Baking Addiction was hosting a Valentine’s themed baking giveaway on her blog and I was lucky enough to WIN!! All this stuff comes from an awesome online baking store and bakery called The Baker’s Nook. They have tons of great stuff – everything a baker could possibly ever need! Among some of my goodies were tons of cookie cutters, Wilton cookie icing and sparkle gel, cupcake liners, cookie stencils, sprinkles and oh so much more! THANKS, JAMIE!! Needless to say, I’ve had a fantabulous time playing with all the free goodies I got – here is just one sample of some of the awesome cookies I made:

This recipe for sugar cookies comes from my Great-grandmother, Baba, who passed it down to my grandmother, Nana, who passed it down to my own mommy, who passed it down to me and my sister. I love recipes like that – the ones that are good enough to hold up through the years and be passed down from generation to generation. It’s not a secret recipe or anything – in fact, its from the very first cookbook that Baba ever bought (when she was a young bride!). Here it is for those of you who are looking for a no-frills plain and simple sugar cookie (they’re actually called Refrigerator Cookies because you keep the dough in the fridge and just pull it out whenever you want cookies).

Baba’s Refrigerator Sugar Cookies
-The American Woman’s Cookbook

(* this makes a TON of dough, so you might want to do like I did and halve the recipe. You’ll still have enough for about 2 dozen cookies!)

6 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shortening (I used a mixture of butter and shortening)
3 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and flavoring and mix well. Add dry ingredients. Divide dough into portions and form into logs. Chill. Take out when needed and slice very thin and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
*Or you could do like I did and roll the dough out and cut out shapes. Either way, the dough needs to be chilled first.

For those of you who haven’t seen Jamie’s blog – I suggest you head over there immediately! I get some of my best baking recipes from her – she’s fabulous! Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

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Winning tastes good….

Thank you, Blake!! I was one of  98 (or 99 – I can’t remember) lucky food bloggers to win three bars of Amano Chocolate from www.blakemakes.com. This stuff is amazing – nice and dark, with a slight fruity taste….it was hard for me not to just sit down and eat all three bars right then. However, I knew I wanted to use it to make something that would really show off the flavor of the chocolate, so I limited myself (with some difficulty) to sampling just one tiny square from each bar.

I knew I had to come up with something good for this chocolate – originally I had planned on chocolate pudding, but one night as I was perusing my favorite food blog, Joy the Baker, I saw a her recipe for hot fudge (Lord almighty, this looked good!) atop Dorie Greenspan’s blueberry sour cream ice cream, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my Amano chocolate.

Now,  you will have to excuse the wretched picture – as soon as my chocolate sauce was finished I decided I couldn’t wait for my ice cream to harden completely, soooo, the ice cream was more like soft-serve, thus, the horrible, “melty mess” of a picture. (I’m not sorry – it was delicious, and I’d do it again, given the chance!)

Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge
– Joy the Baker

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces good bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped (such as Amano! Mmmmm!)
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cup into 1/2 Tablespoons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir together cocoa powder, brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, salt and half of the chopped chocolate in a 2-quart heavy saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted.  Cook mixture at a low boil, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

I decided not to post the blueberry ice cream recipe, but if you would like to have it, go here. And if you wanna know more about Amano Chocolate (and trust me, you do), go here.

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